California for Commander's 6oth Birthday

This epic road trip to So Cal to visit my dad and family had been in the making for months.  It was going to be a family reunion between my brother Joe and sister Lauren (who wound up not making it after all.  Sad!) and me and our families to celebrate our dad turning the big 6-0.  I was so excited to go, but very apprehensive about the long drive down and back with a one and a half year old.  Not to mention all the other inconveniences a young toddler makes on a family.  It was a real source of stress... until I finally asked my sister-in-law, DeAnn, if she'd be willing to let Conrad tag along with her crew for a week.  Thankfully, she said yes, and I will always be so grateful for her help.  She took great tender care of our little man.  It allowed for Bron and I to make some meaningful memories with our big boys.  I suspect they will be talking about this trip for years!

After spending a day at the happiest place on earth, we spent the rest of the weekend simply just hanging out with my dad and his family, my brother Joe, and the dogs.  It was perfect and exactly what I was hoping for.

We spent a day playing in the bay.  Jed and Levi even got to go on a long dinghy ride exclusively with Commander.  We pitched a shade, ate lunch, stuck our toes in the sand, and swam in the ocean water.        

^^Looking for the perfect seashell.^^

My studly little boogie boarder.  Jed has become a pretty good swimmer.  Levi, on the other hand, well, he drowns with style.  He is almost there though.  See that giant floating whale in the background?  We swam out there several times together so that the boys could climb on top and jump off.  It was really cool.

^^I kept calling Jed, Joe the whole trip!^^

The next morning, we all piled into my dad's truck for a short trip to San Diego to see the boat, Tide the Knott.  It's been his working project for years.  I love seeing the improvements he has made.  My dad's handiwork never ceases to impress me.

I see so much of myself in my dad, in the way he learns and builds and learns some more and tries some more.  He's a high achiever.  Not only do I delight in seeing the boat's progress, but being on the ocean on my dad's boat brings back so many nostalgic memories for me: memories from when he was learning to sail those tiny six footers in Hawaii that would flip over in the wind, to the sailboat we took out on Sunday afternoons in Florida, to the "burg" that got caught in a storm, lost an engine, and limped back to Victoria alongside a family of orca whales, to that amazing trip to Catalina Island when I was in college.  Oh, what an adventurous childhood I had all because of my dad!  He showed me that I can do anything with a little risk and a lot of hard work.  Ultimately, it's nothing to put yourself out there to try something new.  What have I got to lose?  Anyway, life lessons from my dad.  I was so happy to share this part of my memory and heritage with my boys.  

^^Thar she be!^^
^^Dad deep in explanation.^^
^^Telling us the story behind those unique lights.^^
^^Jed on the bridge.^^
^^Jed and Joe^^
^^Hey, there's me!^^
^^All about the engines^^
^^Jed and Levi exploring the door to the bow off of "their room".  They said they'd rather bunk in there instead.^^

Family pastime: jumping off the boat!  Joe showed the kids how to do it properly.

^^Levi didn't hesitate.  He jumped right in!^^
^^Jed took his time deciding whether or not the jump was for him.  Ultimately though, he did it!  And he was so happy about it.  I'm glad he joined us in the salty ocean water.^^
^^My boys and me at play.  It's the best.^^
^^I miss this guy.  I wish we lived closer or had an easier time chatting/texting, etc.^^
^^Dying over that summer tan line on that cute rear end.  He's barely six.  It's still okay, right?^^
^^I love the way the water reflects off the bottoms of boats sometimes.^^
^^Climbing down into his hidden bow bunk room.^^
^^Snack, anyone?^^
^^Snacks for the seagulls!^^
^^Carrying on the tradition of bow rider.^^
^^My crew.  I gladly claim them ALL!!!^^

Finally, we had an official celebration with cake and presents to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday.  Liz planned it all, and as usual, she did an excellent job.

^^For some reason, I love this one of my dad.^^
^^They're really good together.  I am so happy my dad found Liz.^^

Since Levi turned 6 the weekend before, we celebrated his birthday a little bit too.

^^A memory book for Buddy, their beloved dog that passed away.^^
^^Dad, Joe, and me.^^
^^First official family picture with Bentley, their new black lab addition.^^

Dad, I enjoyed this trip so much.  I wish we lived closer.  I wish there was more time and money and everything else for just getting together to enjoy each other's company.  You will always have a sweet spot in my heart as this little girl's hero.  Happy 60th Birthday, Dad!  Love you!

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